Chinese designs step closer to protection under Hague system

By Yin Ruowei in Hangzhou (China Daily) Updated : 2019-09-12

China is ramping up the pace to protect industrial designs, said experts during the China Intellectual Property Annual Conference last week. 

The appearance of a product, namely its industrial design, is expected to be protected from the top down, said Lyu Guoliang, former director of the international cooperation department of the National Intellectual Property Administration. He spoke at a session on discovering the value and power of industrial design on Sept 3.

The World Intellectual Property Report 2017 estimates that intangible assets - branding, technology and design - account for about one-third of production value worldwide. The report was released by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

From 2007-17, the number of industrial designs from Chinese filers directly to the European Union continued to grow, except for a slight decline in 2016. In 2017, the number exceeded 8,500,28 times that of 2007.

The boom in Chinese filings also took place in the United States, Japan and South Korea, proving that domestic enterprises are gradually expanding their influence in the global market through industrial designs, Lyu said.

In May, NIPA began negotiations with WIPO on China joining the Hague Agreement, which is a treaty that helps international registrations of industrial designs. Under the agreement, an industrial design will be protected by all contracting parties through a single application. 

Perks of membership include avoiding different currencies to pay fees, submitting one international application in one language such as English, French or Spanish, and communication with the International Bureau of WIPO.

The Hague system allows an application to contain up to 100 different designs as long as they belong to the same category, Lyu said. He added that the system is characterized by simplicity, economy, efficiency and flexibility. 

At present, Chinese enterprises such as telecommunication leaders Huawei and ZTE, electronics manufacturer Lenovo and Xiaomi and home appliance giants Gree and Midea are using the Hague system to protect design patents through "backdoor "applications.

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